I Lost My Baby, My Pickup, and My Guitar on the Information Highway
There are a variety of ways to track keystrokes and log instant messaging sessions, but let me offer a word of caution before we go there. If your friend believes that her husband's affections may be wandering, the best tool to address the problem really isn't a computer. Spying on someone you love, with or without the aid of technology, is ugly. Consider that you may learn things that are very painful, or that you may anger the other party when the subterfuge is revealed. A good old-fashioned OFFLINE chat or a counseling session (with or without the spouse) may be the most direct, and most effective way to get to the bottom of it all.
That said, most instant messaging programs either have session logging built in, or you can install a third-party plugin to enable logging. A quick web search will show you where to find those plugins. Also, the Google Toolbar will archive and allow you to search email from Gmail, Outlook, Outlook Express, Netscape Mail and Thunderbird; Web pages you have visited; files on your computer, including text, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, image, audio, and video files; and yes... chats from AOL, AOL Instant Messenger, and MSN Messenger.
There are also general purpose loggers that can track every keystroke that is sent or received. I won't provide any links to those, because I've never used them, recommend against them for ethical reasons, and wouldn't trust them on my computer. The problem with all of these logging utilities is that they are detectable, either in the Windows system tray, Task Manager or by anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
So what happens if the suspected infidel finds out that he or she is being spied upon? Chances are it will either shatter whatever trust remains in the relationship, or they'll just find another venue to communicate. The chances of ending up in a win-win situation are very slim.
NEWS FLASH! After publishing this article, the following info from the Internet Patrol came to my attention. A Florida court has ruled that it is not ok to install spyware on your spouses computer to monitor what they do, and that, indeed, to do so rises to the level of a punishable criminal offense. For the full story, see Spouse Spanked for Spying.
Is There Such a Thing as a Semi Sequitur?
By the way, "I Lost My Baby, My Pickup, and My Guitar on the Information Highway" is the title of a humorous book written back in 1995 by Judy Heim. You can still find it on Amazon.com. I credit Judy with getting me started on the path to writing several books of my own, since she recommend me to No Starch Press after reading my "Accessing the Internet by Email" guide.
Reprinted from: http://www.askbobrankin.com/keystroke_logging.html
BOB RANKIN... is a tech writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and sharing the fruit of his experience with others. His work has appeared in ComputerWorld, NetGuide, and NY Newsday. Bob is publisher of the Internet TOURBUS newsletter, author of several computer books, and creator of the http://LowfatLinux.com website. Visit Bob Rankin's website for more helpful articles and free tech support.
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